I've taken a peek through the internet as well and it seems that the concept of Level Drain has been debated and dissected and analyzed since Sir Fang roamed Blackmoor.
Since our campaign has revolved around the vampire Zenopus, undead level drain has always been in the back of my mind.
I like the concept of the draining of a life-force but the mechanical execution of it is quite the pain in the ass, not only for the players but for the GM as well (and we're playing a rules lite S&W).
Being touched by the undead has always been a creepy and detrimental thing - as it should be. From Ghouls paralyzing touch, to a Shadow's strength drain to diseased Mummies. Undead should strike fear into the hearts of players. I know mine have had just about enough of Ghouls!
But when you get to Wights, Wraiths and Vampires we get into Level Drain.
Again, I have no problem with the concept of draining the life force from a character. As mentioned in the link above there are plenty examples in fantasy literature (The Earth Sea Trilogy and the Wights and Wraiths in The Lord of the Rings), but in game it's a momentum stopper. I agree with some of the criticism as it goes directly to the mechanics of the game (loosing character levels and all that goes with it). There also doesn't seem to be much of a consensus on how to 'solve' this issue.
On the one hand these Level Drains or Life Drains should be deadly, feared and avoided, but mechanically in the game it's just too much work. And for our campaign that has taken three years just to get to levels 4 and 5, it just might be too much to ask for the players to take.
So how to fix.
I've been thinking of changing the term from Level Drain to Life Drain but how should that be reflected mechanically?
A drain on Constitution?
It would make a character's Life Force practically the same throughout his career. Which may or may not be a bad thing.
How would you recover constitution?
Complete bed rest and one point per week?
A loss of the Character's Hit Die per hit
Hit Dice are a reflection of a character's Life Force.
When touched you loose a roll of the character's hit die per hit.
MU loose 1d4 per hit, fighters 1d8 per hit. Gives them a little bit of a fighting chance.
These losses can't be recovered easily. Maybe a remove curse spell for each hit die recovered, or restoration per hit die lost.
Drain on Constitution and Hit Die damage
A combination of both ideas that I kinda like.
Constitution can only be recovered at one point per week at complete bed rest.
Lost Hit Points can not be recovered until all constitution is recovered.
Loosing hit points can cause death but loosing constitution can turn the PC into the creature.
I don't know. Does anyone see any issues with these ideas? Have you tried some of your own solutions? I'd love to hear what some others have to say.
UPDATE: Another fantastic take on the concept of level drain and undead in general can be found over at The Other Side Blog here.
|Exactly who you DON'T want to run into in some dark gloomy chamber.|